The 1st OBSERVE CARAVAN workshop took place March 1 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The concept was simple: For an effective technology transfer, you must visit the audience at their location rather than transporting them to scientific and professional events.
Fifty-eight participants arrived from 15 countries, including professionals from the private and public sectors alike, as well as administration officials, press, academicians and students.
All the presented material is freely available at http://www.observe-fp7.eu/. The next CARAVAN will take place May 17 in Belgrade, Serbia.
1. The CARAVAN concept and goals
Following the ISPRS tradition, the OBSERVE project fulfilled the first CARAVAN workshop in the Balkan countries.
The CARAVAN knowledge-transfer concepts are simple:
• Visit the audience at their location rather than transporting them to scientific and professional events;
• Focus on topics that are of interest to the region or the host country, and aim directly to meet with local demands and needs;
• Build on CARAVAN events to support cooperation between individuals, institutions and countries within the region.
The goals were:
• Support capacity building through knowledge transfer;
• Amplify the voice and elevate the status of local scientists, professionals, managers and officials who are dealing with EO and other spatial information;
• Increase the awareness of the private, public and governmental communities, officials and decision-makers to EO;
• Further the cooperation between individuals, institutions and countries within the Balkan region in particular, and outside the region as well.
2. The 1st OBSERVE CARAVAN
This 1st CARAVAN workshop took place March 1, in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was divided into three major sessions. The 58 participants arrived from 15 countries, and included professionals from both the private and public sectors, as well as administration officials, press, academicians and students. Speakers praised the fact that local government representatives were present.
During the first session, P. Patias, M. Baltsavias and M. Konecny dealt with:
• The OBSERVE project, its aims, activities and the major outcomes up to date;
• The International “Geo” scientific societies and their EO role and activities in the global arena;
• The International institutes and horizontal research cooperation as expressed in the field of crisis management with EO support.
This first session was informative in terms of the general picture of the OBSERVE project, in particular EO. Presented were EO International and European structures, research innovations and policy-making bodies. All these constitute important reference information for the involved participants. Usually, this is the kind of information one can rarely access from a single source.
During the second session, G. Schwartz and S. Zlatanova dealt with current and planned EO activities in Europe.
This session focused on technology and activities mainly in European countries. Whenever possible, special reference and relevance were given to the Balkan region. Outlook of the available technology and low or no-cost open source tools also were pointed out at the end of the review.
Disaster management was shown in the context of an application area of horizontal importance, but with relevance to local action. The importance of EO input for such cases was advocated and emphasized. Also, the importance of cooperation within national activities, as much as in regional and international cooperation, was mentioned as one of the best practices the participants may preserve.
During the third session, R. Vatseva, A. Frantsova, N. Zafirov, Ch. Georgiadis and Z. Gospavic dealt with case studies and success stories already realized in Balkan countries. Cases of Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece were presented.
This session focused more on a local level, and showcased EO “success experiences” at the country and national level. Also evident were the wide range of possible application areas and the local capacity of being an “EO player.” Information flow and knowledge transfer were the main points of the final round table session. It was postulated that cooperation would be impossible unless information, such as was presented and discussed in the CARAVAN will be available to local EO users and added value providers. Participants coming from other European countries that seem to be more advanced in these matters contributed also with their experiences.
3. The experience
The 1st OBSERVE CARAVAN seems to be a good benchmark as it opened all the participants, including the OBSERVE partners, to additional EO activities in Bulgaria and the Balkan region, not known to us before. We should hope this start would serve as an incentive to continue with more CARAVAN efforts.
All the presented material, including videos and presentation files, are freely available from the OBSERVE website. After the success of the first benchmark event in Sofia, the next OBSERVE CARAVAN will take place May 17 in Belgrade, Serbia.
Petros Patias, OBSERVE coordinator, is a professor and ex-chairman at the School of Rural and Surveying Engineering, The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, board member of the Department of Urban Planning, and Vice Rector at the University of Western Macedonia, Greece. His published work includes six books, four chapters in international books and 161 papers in journals and proceedings.